[SPORTS] Hapa Skateboarding Legend - Christian Hosoi
- WHO IS CHRISTIAN HOSOI?
YouTube Video Testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCdxNkXnjpA
Boasting dual citizenship in LA and Hawaii for his 33 years
(mirroring a Japanese/Caucasian heritage),
I had just gotten off the phone with Christian Hosoi, and I felt
giddy like a little pony. This was a poignant sense of
accomplishment and also a certain sympathy for a skateboarding idol
who had burnt a flamboyantly arcing path as a top pro skater during
the 80's. Hosoi spoke to me from San Bernardino Federal where he is
presently awaiting trial on possession charges. There's almost too
much to say about Christian Hosoi; from the childhood skateboard
roots in 70's LA, to the stardom in the punk rock revival of Venice
Beach skateboarding during the 80's. His story runs deep, a faction
of the history of skateboarding itself.
Boasting dual citizenship in LA and Hawaii for his 33 years
(mirroring a Japanese/Caucasian heritage), Hosoi started skating at
5 with veterans like Shogo Kubo, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay
Adams as models. These were the pioneers of the urethane wheeled
revolution; skating ramps and dried pools along with boardwalks and
driveways in the late 70's. Hosoi developed as a skater in Venice
Beach's Dogtown scene, which has and still plays a huge role in
defining skateboarding culture. Blowing up was easy for Hosoi, born
and raised in a pot that was pretty much a school for the
advancement of pop-culture.
Skating fell off around 1980 as the California style trend buckled,
resurfacing huge again in the mid 80's with the national exposure of
the Bones Brigade, Vision Streetware, and Vans. Dogtown Skates and
Jimmy'Z rider Christian Hosoi came back as one of the new rulers of
the landsled alongside pros such as Caballero, Tony Hawk, Jeff
Kendall, and Nautas Kaupas. Pulling tricks like Christ and Rocket
airs consistently head high, while rocking day-glo spandex shorts,
long hair, ripped t-shirts and headbands jacked Hosoi into the vein
of hugely successful pro skating. National competition through Frank
Hawk's National Skateboarding Association (NSA) and major corporate
endorsement put the Wheaties in the bank accounts for top
professional skaters such as Hosoi. Hollywood of course went nuts on
the new stylemakers, co-opting and marketing skating's fresh, young
athletes, and their rebellious punk rock attitude for movies such
as 'Thrashin' and 'Gleaming the Cube'. Holmes was there. He rocked
the skateboard industry as well, pioneering the first professionally
endorsed wheel from Santa Cruz Skateboards, OJ II's called 'Hosoi
Rockets' and eventually forming his own Hosoi Hammerhead Skates with
the rock hard 7 ply maple board shaped like the shark. Kids, betties
and Converse loved him.
Hosoi's rockstar skater lifestyle bombed with the Downfall of
Skating Part II, as a depression hit the US in the early 90's,
throwing skaters from commercial success back to the streets (where
they belong). Hosoi disappeared from the scene after financial
difficulties with a couple more skateboard companies, and had been
seen only by the chosen few until news of his arrest and
incarceration, in early 2000. Holmes had been running from troubles
with drugs for a while, evading the law for minor charges until
popped with a very serious, very federal offense in early 2000:
trafficking narcotics across state lines, from LA to Hawaii. Facing
a 10 year mandatory prison sentence, Hosoi has been forced to settle
down and re-examine his role as a Christian, father, son, fiancée
and possible positive skateboarding role model.
I recently came in contact with Christian's fiancée, Jennifer Lee
Hosoi online, in a bulletin board discussion I had started
titled "Best Locked up Skateboarder" at Giant Robot, which had
polled opinions over Hosoi and Mark 'Gator' Rogowski (killed
girlfriend's best friend). Jennifer had at first thought the
discussion rather tasteless and wrote me, defending Hosoi from such
online attacks against his character. I quickly replied back and
explained myself as a very interested designer researching a very
cool public's opinion about a legend in search of content for a
Hosoi info/fan site. I immediately asked for an interview, which she
very nicely set up with the understanding that I would help get the
word out about Hosoi's life. I enthusiastically agreed. I present to
you, a recorded conversation between Christian Hosoi and myself,
comprised of questions for Hosoi compiled by myself and friends who
have always wanted to ask the legend questions.
- Jay Hakkinen -
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Christian Rosha Hosoi (born October 5, 1967 in USA) is a
professional skateboarder. He was also known by the
nicknames "Christ" and "Holmes". Hosoi, along with Tony Hawk, was
the most popular skateboarder for the better part of the 1980's.
Hosoi is married to Jennifer Lee and has one son, Rhythm Hosoi. He
is currently living in Huntington Beach, California.
Early skateboard career
Hosoi started skating at five years old with veterans such as Shogo
Kubo, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay Adams as models. His father,
Ivan "Pops" Hosoi became the manager of the Marina Del Ray
Skatepark, and Christian quit school and spent his time at the
skatepark where he quickly developed his skateboarding talent. In
1979 Hosoi was sponsored by Powell Peralta. He left a year later
when Powell Peralta would not turn him pro, and he joined Dogtown
Skateboards which went out of business shortly thereafter. He turned
pro at the age of 14 with Sims Skateboards.
Christian Hosoi emerged as one of the top competitors of vert riding
alongside such pros as Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Lester Kasai,
and Mark "Gator" Rogowski with an eventual rivalry developing with
Tony Hawk with contrasting styles in both skateboarding and
lifestyles Hosoi, known for his flair and graceful style, and Hawk
raising the bar with his technical ability and difficult tricks.
Hosoi invented the Christ Air and Rocket Air, and was renouned for
pulling huge aerials; at one point holding the world record.
Vertical skateboarding grew in spectator popularity with prize money
to match. This, combined with major endorsements with Converse,
Swatch, and Jimmy'Z, as well as receiving a pro model wheel, the OJ
II Hosoi Rocket through Santa Cruz Speed Wheels, earned Hosoi more
money than he'd ever dreamed of. In 1984 he formed his own company
Hosoi Skates, first through Skull Skates, then through NHS/Santa
Cruz, and released his signature and iconic Hammerhead model, with
the shape inspired by the namesake shark, which proved so popular it
was couterfeited. When street skating began to emerge in the mid-
to-late 80s, Hosoi proved a threat as well, winning both the vert
and street contests at the Lotte Cup contest in Japan in 1989.
Hosoi's skateboard career began to falter as a recession hit the US
in the early 1990s, and skateboarding underwent a revolution with
street skating becoming the dominant discipline, overshadowing the
superstars of the previous decade and ushering a new generation of
pros, with dwindling coverage of vertical riding in magazines and
videos. Hosoi faced bankruptcy after financial difficulties with a
series of failed skateboard companies; Tuff Sk8s, Sk8 Kultur, Milk,
and Focus, in addition to a growing addiction to drugs. Hosoi had
been evading the law, with two minor offenses and a warrant for his
arrest for failing to appear in court while on bail since 1995. This
further pushed Christian into obscurity, as he avoided competitions
and demos, including declining and invitation to the first X Games
(then the Extreme Games), which was going to be marketed as a
renewed rivalry between Hawk and Hosoi. The X Games would prove to
be a turning point for Hawk it revived the interest in vert
skateboarding (and skateboarding in general) and he would go on to
achieve some of his greatest skateboarding accomplishments as well
as international fame and fortune unlike any other point in his
career. Christian was finally captured in January 2000 at the
Honolulu airport. He was apprehended while attempting to transport
1½ pounds of crystal methamphetamine from Los Angeles to Hawaii. He
was charged with traffiking with the intent to distribute, a federal
crime, and Hosoi's third strike. He was sentenced to 10 years. Hosoi
was incarcerated at the San Bernadino Central Detention Center.
While in prison, Hosoi married girlfriend Jennifer Lee, became a
born again Christian through the urging of his wife and her uncle
Christopher Swain, a pastor, as well as earning his high school
diploma. He was supported by the skate industry while in prison,
receiving a pro model deck though the Red Kross/Emergency division
of Black Label Skateboards, as well a tribute deck by Shorty's and
Chad Muska featuring an homage to Hosoi's first pro model deck on
Sims with the Rising Sun graphic, and guest decks through Mark
Gonzales' Krooked Skateboards and Pocket Pistols Skateboards, the
latter two releasing decks in the famous Hammerhead shape. In June
2004 Hosoi's sentence was reduced for good behavior and he was
released on parole. Hosoi continues to be open about his new found
faith, having become ordained as an associate pastor, and has
resumed his skateboarding career.
Hosoi was back on a skateboard within two weeks of his release,
having not stepped on one during his five years in prison. He
quickly demonstrated his innate skateboard talent, pulling off big
airs with the style and grace he was revered for. He has since left
Black Label, and has once again in the process of restarting Hosoi
Skateboards, through Pocket Pistols. He has appeared in Stephen
Baldwin's Livin' It LA a Christian-themed skateboard DVD. In 2006 he
signed with Vans, receiving a pro model shoe, the Hosoi Sk8-Hi
featuring the Rising Sun graphic that adorned his debut pro model
deck with Sims. He will also be featured in the upcoming Tony Hawk's
Project 8 video game.
Placed in top 5 in 1980 Van's/Offshore Amateur State Finals
(California) in boys 11-13 division.
1st in 1985 NSA Summer Series #5 (Vancouver, BC): pro vert.
2nd in 1986 Expo 86 (Vancouver, BC): vert
1st in 1988 Vision Skate Escape: vert.
1st in 1988 Titus World Cup (Germany): vert.
Last Words: Christian Hosoi
Last group of people you skated with: Steve Caballero, Lance
Mountain, Mike McGill, Stacy Peralta, Steve Olson, and Jay Smith at
the Santa Monica skatepark three days ago.
Last trick you did that made you think, "Damn that felt good": A
backside ollie in the Santa Monica park poolthat thing is perfect.
Last skate video you watched: The new Quiksilver video.
Last sponsor you acquired: Probably Pro-tec. I'm getting a signature
Last new trick you learned: Nollie 360 pop shove-its up the Euro gap
at an Active demo last night.
Last Christ air you did: I did one at the Luis Palau DC Festival,
right in front of the Capitol Building.
Last person you saw do a Christ air: Danny Way, about twenty feet
out on the Mega Ramp.
Last time you wore spandex: Probably in the early 90s. Wait, no,
maybe at Skate Escape '89 (laughs).
Last lien at Marina Del Rey Park: I remember doing a big lien air on
the night before they buried it.
Last launch ramp you skated: I skated one at the KR3W warehouse with
my son, Rhythm.
Last time you missed the 80s: When I was sitting in prison, thinking
about how blessed I had been during that decade.
Last article of clothing from Jimmy'Z you rocked: Probably the
Last time you skated with Scott Oster: Around the beginning of the
year at the Brooklyn Projects ramp.
Last mission you really set out to accomplish: To preach the gospel
through skateboarding to the four corners of the Earth.
Last new hobby you picked up: I just ordered a golf bag from Ogio. I
guess that's a hobbythat and surfing. My pastor and I just started
surfing. Quiksilver is making me a custom board.
Last time you saw Gator: Like around '90, up at my ramp in
Last phone number you dialed: My wife's. I just called her a second
Last food you reluctantly ate: Probably a Carl's Jr. breakfast
burrito. Waitactually I don't really reluctantly eat anything after
spending five years in prison. That burrito was kind of good
Last skate-shop purchase: I don't think I've ever paid for anything.
Praise God for skate shops. I've been blessed by many a shop.
Last album you rebought: Call To GloryThe Uprising Tour.
Last rap album you bought: I just got the Tupac documentary DVD, if
Last book you read: Smith WiggleworthThe Anointing Of His Spirit.
Last band you were in: I was in the men's gospel choir at the Las
Vegas Nellis prison camp.
Last person you snaked: Whoever I had my last session with.
Last Web site you visited: Caballero's MySpace.
Last time you saw one of the dudes from Thrashin': Eddie Reategui,
Last publication you did an interview for: Breakaway magazine. I
also just got the cover of Titus magazine.
Last handrail you skated: The Brea skatepark rail with Butch
Last thing you became addicted to: 360 flipsjust trying 'em feels
Last time you hung out with Mark Gonzales: Wow, probably back
in '91. He and Jason Lee would come skate my ramp in Hollywood.
Last TV show you found yourself watching: The Trinity Broadcast
Last time you were on TV: YesterdayThe Daily Habit show on Fuel TV.
Last shady situation you encountered: Getting arrested in 2000.
Last piece of skateboard paraphernalia you autographed: A Quiksilver
team poster at the Monday night skate nights I do at my Uncle Chris'
church, the City Lights Dream Center.
Last place you called home: The Sanctuary Church in Huntington
Last time you surprised yourself: Almost 360 flipping up the Euro
gap at that Active demo.
Last idea you had for a board graphic: My new one. It's a cross with
wings and the rising sun. Lucero drew it for me.
Last dude that called you Holmes: Probably Jeff Grossoat the Vans
Pro-tec Pool Party.
Last words with which you would like to leave us today: Give your
life to Christ, because Heaven and Hell are real. Scripture verse
John 14:6Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the father, except through me."
by Jennifer Jacoby-Smith
In the 1980s' hey-day of the skateboarding world, one skater
literally rose above the rest Christian Hosoi. His name became
synonymous with big air and big stunts.
One stunt in particular, known as the Christ Air, required the
skateboarder while flying vertically in the air to grab his
board in one hand and spread his arm and
straighten his legs. The resulting posture looks like Christ on the
Far from a religious comment, `Christ' was the young skater's
nickname. As the sport rose in prominence, the young prodigy's
popularity soared. Companies clamored to get Hosoi to endorse their
gear. By 17 he was making $350,000 a year from sponsorship deals.
Hosoi grew up in California and Hawaii. His dad, a surfer and
artist, bought him his first skateboard when he was five. "I was
just hooked on it. By the time I was seven years old I carried my
skateboard wherever I went.
Hosoi's skills were evident early on. He got his first picture in a
skateboarding magazine when he was just 10 years old. The publicity
spurred his desire to become a professional skateboarder.
His dad supported Christian's dream, getting a job as the manager of
a skate park in Venice Beach, CA. During father-son bonding time,
the two smoked pot together.
A star in a rock-and-roll sport, Hosoi had the lifestyle to go with
it: from parties to girls to the entourage who followed him
everywhere. As the decade ended, the pro circuit died. Sponsors
walked away and many skateboarders faced financial difficulties. In
1993, Hosoi began using crystal methamphetamine.
"I wanted to quit, but when you're addicted to that drug you really
can't quit on your own," he says. "Especially if you don't have a
foundation or faith in God." As time went on, Hosoi says life
consisted of "basically doing as much drugs as I could." In the
late '90s, when his girlfriend, Jennifer, announced she was quitting
drugs and going to church, Hosoi agreed to go with her. Having never
been inside a church before, Hosoi found the experience interesting,
"If you would have asked me if I was going to heaven, I would have
said, `Yeah I'm going to heaven' all because I thought I was a
good person," Hosoi notes. "(I) didn't know there was a reason why I
need to trust in Jesus. That it was because of my sin that I
wouldn't go to heaven. Not knowing I needed a Saviour, I just
thought I was being a good person."
Meanwhile, to make some extra cash, Hosoi agreed to take drugs from
Hawaii to California for a friend.
He was subsequently caught and arrested. Facing 10 years of prison
time, Hosoi called Jennifer in tears. "I love you, we'll get through
this," she consoled him. "You have to just trust in God." "Trust in
God?" Hosoi replied. "What's God going to do for me? I need a
lawyer, babe." Jennifer insisted God would help. She directed him to
find a Bible.
Back in his cell, Hosoi opened God's Word for the very first
time. "I saw Genesis. I'm like `Wow, that's a Star Trek type of
title,' " Hosoi says. Eventually, he found himself enthralled with
the book of I Kings. As he read something remarkable happened.
Seeing how God interacted with King David and the prophets, Hosoi
started to get a picture of what the Almighty was like merciful,
forgiving, and yet just. "It was like God speaking His truth to me,"
remembers Hosoi. "I need to know this God."
Three weeks later, Hosoi gave his life to Jesus Christ. During his
four-and-a-half years in prison, Hosoi devoured the Bible. "I
started to realize there was a reason for everything. God didn't
want me there (in jail)," he says. "But through that experience,
that circumstance, I was able to focus on God with no distractions."
As Hosoi served his time, word of his remarkable conversion began to
Actor Stephen Baldwin, who also had a dramatic conversion to Christ
after 9/11, began putting together a skateboarding/BMX video called
Livin' It to share the good news of Jesus. When he heard about Hosoi
coming to Christ, Baldwin phoned Jennifer to ask if Hosoi would like
to be involved in the video. Hosoi loved the idea and met with
Baldwin a week after his prison release in 2004.
To date, Hosoi and Jennifer have been married for five years and are
expecting their first son in October. Along with Hosoi's eight-year-
old son Rhythm, they make their home in Huntington Beach, CA. His
latest project is a documentary film about his life, entitled Rising
Son, which won Best Documentary after playing at the Cannes Film
Festival and the Malibu Film Festival. The film will be premiering
in select cities in August. Despite being 38 years old which is
ancient in the world of skateboarding Hosoi insists, "You never
retire from pro skateboarding."
The skater who revolutionized the sport and inspired generations now
hopes to do it again this time in the name of the real Christ. In
Hosoi's words, he wants "to touch this generation in a relevant way
He explains, "It's because God loves us so much that He gave His
only begotten Son. That's the bottom line for me. That He gave me
eternal life. And through just that alone, I want to live for Him."